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Dublin: 14 °C Friday 22 February, 2019
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Good evening and welcome along to our live coverage of tonight’s Premier League showdown between Manchester City and Liverpool from the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s side were the undisputed champions last season, blitzing all around them to storm to the league title, but their crown is under serious threat as Liverpool bid to end their 28-year wait for domestic glory. 

Nothing will be won or lost here tonight, but victory in Manchester for the Reds would move them 10 points ahead of City at the summit of the Premier League, after the champions endured a difficult Christmas period with defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester.

Unbeaten in their 20 league outings this term, Liverpool are now title favourites after a thunderous first half of the campaign under Klopp, and genuine belief is rising on the red half of Merseyside.

It’s the big one, and we’re following it all live from 8pm. Stick with us!

It’s a freezing January night in Manchester, but the scene is set.

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TEAM NEWS: Hot off the press, here are how the sides line up tonight. Interesting selection from Guardiola, who makes a couple of changes, as John Stones starts alongside Aymeric Laporte and Vincent Kompany. Is it Laporte at left-back?

Man City: Ederson, Stones, Kompany, Laporte, Danilo, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Silva, Sterling, Aguero, Sane.

Subs: Walker, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus, Muric. 

TEAM NEWS: As for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp has recalled Jordan Henderson and James Milner, with Fabinho and Shaqiri the players to drop out.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Subs: Fabinho, Keita, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Mignolet, Shaqiri.

Pep Guardiola has lost more matches against Jurgen Klopp (seven) than he has against anyone else in his managerial career, although only two of those defeats have come in home games. 

Which way do you see this one going?


Poll Results:





The teams are in the house!

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So, Pep Guardiola has reshuffled his City defence for a game his side dare not lose, as Kyle Walker again drops to the bench. 

Walker was also sidelined for City’s defeat to Leicester and victory over Southampton on Sunday after conceding a penalty in a shock 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace 12 days ago with Danilo keeping his place at right-back.

Aymeric Laporte moves over to left-back with captain Vincent Kompany starting alongside John Stones at the heart of the defence.

Kevin de Bruyne is only fit enough for a place on the bench with David Silva and Bernardo Silva bolstered by the return to fitness of Fernandinho at the base of the midfield.

By contrast, Klopp goes with his tried and trusted as Jordan Henderson and James Milner return in place of Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri from the side that thrashed Arsenal 5-1 on Saturday.

Indeed, goalkeeper Alisson Becker is the only change from the Liverpool side that lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in May.

Liverpool have only won one of their last nine league visits to the Etihad Stadium (D3 L5), winning 4-1 in Jurgen Klopp’s first away game against Manchester City since taking over the Reds.

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AS IT STANDS: Man City will be hoping the turn of the year sparks an upturn in their recent form, after Pep Guardiola’s side suffered three defeats in seven games during the month of December to lose ground on Liverpool and Tottenham.

Liverpool, on the other hand, closed out 2018 by extending their unbeaten run to 20 matches, as they won seven straight games in December while scoring 22 goals in the process. 

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How are the nerves, Man City and Liverpool fans?

Just 15 minutes until kick-off — so just enough time to get your final pre-match predictions in. 

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As the teams emerge to a febrile atmosphere inside the Etihad Stadium, here’s a final check on tonight’s starting XIs.

Man City: Ederson, Stones, Kompany, Laporte, Danilo, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Silva, Sterling, Aguero, Sane. 

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Salah, Firmino, Mane. 

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KICK OFF! The clash of the champions and the challengers is underway. Strap yourself in!

1Mins

1 mins – A chorus of boos reverberates around the ground as James Milner sets the ball rolling for Liverpool. Fast and frenetic opening minute or so, as you would expect. 

2Mins

2 mins – It appears City are lining out with four at the back, with Laporte deployed at left-back and Kompany and Stones in the middle.

“I’ve doubted it until I’ve actually seen it, it didn’t feel like a Pep Guardiola move, but he has,” Gary Neville says on Sky Sports.

4Mins

3 mins – Purposeful start from City as they look to set an early tone but Leroy Sane’s low cross from the left is easily dealt with by Alisson. 

4Mins

4 mins — City are showing huge intent early doors but the visitors have a moment to settle as the referee pauses play to allow Andrew Robertson receive treatment after being clattered by Fernandinho. The challenges are flying in. 

8Mins

7 mins – Thunderous start from the champions but Liverpool are finding their composure after weathering the initial onslaught. The Reds find space on the right but the cross is too close to Ederson. Breathless stuff and we’re only seven minutes in. 

10Mins

9 mins – Feisty opening at the Etihad to say the least but nothing you wouldn’t expect in a game of this magnitude. 

15Mins

14 mins – Like an arrow! Fernandinho fizzes a ball out to the right for Sterling, who has space to run at Robertson but the Liverpool left-back comes out on top on that occasion. Kompany — who has started particularly well — then overhits a ball out of defence for Sane. 

16Mins

15 mins – Both sides are putting huge pressure on when not in possession and that’s leading to a number of sloppy mistakes. City just edging the possession stakes — 52% — so far, but we haven’t had a shot on goal in the opening 15 minutes.

17Mins

17 mins — Off the post! Chaos! Remarkable passage of play as Liverpool carve City open and Mane is through one-on-one, but he sees his effort comes back off the post.

But then Stones’ clearance comes back off Ederson, and the City defender is forced to scramble back and somehow he keeps it out with a last-ditch clearance on the line. How did that not go in!?

20Mins

20 mins — That chance was created by slick link-up play between Salah and Firmino, with the former sliding Mane through the heart of the City defence. 

Replays show the ball was a hair’s breadth from crossing the line. The hosts are off the hook. 

23Mins

22 mins — Yellow! First booking of the game, but was Lovren lucky to stay on there? He cynically hacks Aguero down from behind with absolutely no intention to play the ball after the Argentine looked to get behind the Liverpool defence.

23Mins

Here’s that Mane chance, and incredible clearance from Stones.

27Mins

27 mins – This is Manchester City’s longest wait for their first shot of a Premier League match at home since October 2016 (v Southampton — 38th minute). 

28Mins

28 mins – Chance! But City still haven’t had a shot. Sterling gets in behind Robertson for the first time, cuts back onto his left but Silva delays when the ball is pulled back to him in the box and Van Dijk is on hand to snuff out the danger. 

32Mins

30 mins — Yellow! Kompany goes into the book but should he have been sent off for a two-footed lunge on Salah? The City skipper may consider himself fortunate there.

39Mins

38 mins — Yellow! Another card, this time for Wijnaldum, as he tracks Sane in off the wing and pulls the City forward to the ground. Just over five minutes until the break. 

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40 mins — GOAL! Man City 1-0 Liverpool (Aguero)

Aguerooo! The Argentine striker keeps his remarkable record against Liverpool up – has scored in all seven of his home league appearances against Liverpool — with the all-important breakthrough goal, as he turns Lovren and fires it high into the net past Alisson from a ridiculously tight angle. 

41Mins

41 mins -- The roof comes off the Etihad and what a time for the champions to strike. Moments before Aguero rifled past Alisson, the Brazilian ‘keeper saved from Sane but Liverpool couldn’t clear the danger and there was no denying their prolific striker. 

45Mins

45 mins – Two minutes added on at the end of the first half, as Laporte is cautioned for fouling Milner. 

45Mins

45 + 2 mins – Liverpool pushing for an equaliser deep into first-half stoppage time, as Van Dijk heads back across goal but City stand firm. 

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Half-time! Man City 1-0 Liverpool

And Anthony Taylor brings an absorbing first half to an end at the Etihad, and it’s the hosts who hold the half-time advantage thanks to Sergio Aguero’s clinical touch and finish from a tight angle.

45Mins

Lift off for City.

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45Mins

What did you make of that half?

46Mins

The teams are back out and we’re ready to go again. We’re hearing there are no changes on either side at the break. 

47Mins

47 mins – The Sky Sports panel discussed Kompany’s challenge on Salah at the break, with Graeme Souness commenting: “Another day it’s a red card. Salah gets in the air and avoids most of it. He’s off the ground and endangering an opponent, and sometimes that’s viewed as a red card by referees.”

51Mins

50 mins – Ferocious pace to the game at the start of this second half, but not a whole lot to report. Van Dijk does well to shepherd Bernardo Silva away from goal before Mane tries to test the City rearguard at the other end. Not much in it.

52Mins

52 mins – Penalty appeals from the hosts but Taylor isn’t interested. Sterling runs at Robertson again and there’s a coming together between the pair as the City forward looks to cut back. Not a whole lot in it, to be fair. 

56Mins

55 mins – Good spell of possession for the visitors, which ends in Alexander-Arnold flashing a half-volley wide, but that’s better from Liverpool as they search for a route back into this game. 

56Mins

56 mins – And Klopp has made his first change with Milner making way for Fabinho.

59Mins

58 mins — Close! Ederson finds Sane with a pinpoint ball out of the back and after City show patience in possession, it opens up for Danilo, who tries his luck from range but tugs his effort just wide. 

62Mins

62 mins — Chance! Liverpool are probing. A mix up between Kompany and Ederson leaves the ‘keeper in no man’s land, but there are enough bodies back to clear Firmino’s goalbound shot off the line.

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63 mins — GOAL! Man City 1-1 Liverpool (Firmino) 

The Reds are level! Alexander-Arnold sends a pinpoint ball towards Robertson at the back-post and as it sails just over Danilo’s head, the Liverpool left-back volleys it across the six-yard box for the unmarked Firmino to head home. Game on! 

66Mins

66 mins – The intensity has gone up another couple of notches again. Guardiola has responded to the equaliser by introducing Ilkay Gundogan for David Silva. The Liverpool fans in fine voice now.

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71 mins — GOAL! Man City 2-1 Liverpool (Sane)

The Etihad erupts! What a counter, what a finish. Sterling finds a pocket of space, runs at the Liverpool defence and slips Sane in down the left, before the German fires it low in off the far post. City lead again. 

73Mins

73 mins – Can Liverpool find another response? There’s still plenty of time left for the visitors. 

74Mins

74 mins – Shaqiri is readying himself to come on for the Liverpool. 

76Mins

76 mins — And it’s Mane who makes way for the Swiss forward. Just under 15 minutes left at the Etihad. 

80Mins

79 mins – The game beginning to really open up now, and City have acres of space to try and exploit, as Sterling is picked out on the right. He’s one-on-one with Robertson again but delays the shot and tries to get around the outside of the Scot, who stands tall and makes the tackle.

81Mins

80 mins – A long passage of possession here for Liverpool as they retain the ball in search of a chink in City’s armour. Alexander-Arnold gets to the byline, pulls it back and more chaos ensues as the home side struggle to get it clear. 

81Mins

81 mins — Save! City look to break and they manufacture the chance for Aguero through Sterling’s blistering counter, but Alisson does brilliantly to deny the striker. 

82Mins

82 mins – Alisson keeps Liverpool in the game as we enter the final eight minutes in Manchester. 

84Mins

83 mins — Save! This time Ederson is forced into action and he pulls off a fine stop to prevent Salah from equalising. Guardiola is fuming because he thinks there was a foul on Fernandinho in the build-up, and Taylor is coming over to have a word with the City boss. 

85Mins

85 mins – From the corner, Ederson flaps at it but City do enough to hack it clear and survive. Drama at the Etihad and it’s not over yet.

85Mins

86 mins – Last throw of the dice from Klopp as former City striker Daniel Sturridge replaces Wijnaldum. The hosts also make a change, as Kyle Walker is sprung into action for Laporte. 

88Mins

87 mins – City look to take the sting out of Liverpool’s late onslaught as Kompany strolls off to be replaced by Otamendi. Three minutes plus stoppage time left on the clock. 

89Mins

88 mins – Bernardo Silva goes into the book, and we’re hearing there will be five additional minutes. 

90Mins

90 mins — Chance! Oh Sterling spurns a glorious opportunity to wrap it up but fires wide after Alisson saved from Bernardo Silva. Liverpool still in it. 

90Mins

90 mins — FIVE MINUTES OF ADDED TIME!

91Mins

90 + 1 mins – Can Liverpool find a late, late equaliser? It’s all a bit scrappy at the moment but here come the Reds through Roberston down the left…

90Mins

90 + 2 mins — City standing firm at the moment as Liverpool throw everyone forward. 

90Mins

90 + 3 mins – City have everyone behind the ball and Ederson comes out to punch a ball into the area. Desperate times for the league leaders, whose unbeaten record is under serious threat here.

90Mins

90 + 4 mins – Sane hacks it clear and Liverpool are firmly in last chance saloon now. 

90Mins

90 + 5 mins – That should be that. This place is about to erupt…

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Full-time! Man City 2-1 Liverpool

The champions take the points, and Liverpool suffer their first defeat of the Premier League season, as the lead at the top of the table is cut to just four points.

Sane is the match-winner for City after his low strike settled a brilliant game following earlier goals from Aguero and Firmino. 

Pep Guardiola records his 100th competitive win in charge of City, and the race is very much on. Liverpool are still four points clear but the champions are back up to second and just four points off the pace after 21 games. 

AS IT STANDS: Liverpool could have ended the night 10 points clear, but have been reeled right back in. It’s tight at the top!

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MANCHESTER CITY ENSURED the Premier League title race will again be a tight one as they reduced Liverpool’s lead to four points thanks to a 2-1 win over the leaders at the Etihad tonight.

An intense, high-tempo meeting between Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions and Jurgen Klopp’s leaders was settled by Leroy Sane’s superb 72nd-minute strike that went in off the post just eight minutes after Roberto Firmino’s header had cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s first-half blast.

Read our full match report here.

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne look back on a memorable year for Irish rugby.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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